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Riders To Watch in 2024

Ten riders to watch during the course of the year. Some are picked as rising talents, others will be very familiar but are still interesting to watch and some. As ever the hard pick is picking ten riders from a World Tour peloton of over 500 and the same exercise every lunchtime this month could see all sorts picked but here’s your ten…

Remco Evenepoel (Soudal-Quickstep) is the first pick. Among the big names in the sport there’s the paradox where Evenepoel is both a confirmed star and and yet unknown proposition. Call them the galaticos, the Musketeers, the Big Five, there is a caste of top riders at the top who often win and yet with Evenepoel there’s still a sense of unexplored frontiers, a Vuelta win but a Vuelta collapse too and the sense we don’t know quite where his limits are, he can be invincible but also mercurial. But perhaps 2024 isn’t the season to define them either, his team, well they don’t look the strongest for the Tour and this year’s Tour route is very big on longer climbs and maybe his power curve isn’t suited. Also he finished last year questioning the sacrifices of long altitude training camps, but he could be refreshed now. Expect more moments of genius but also the risk of implosion which is what makes things exciting.

Ineos are an interesting team as they’re not what they used to be, and many riders left and even the manager ended up leaving. Filippo Ganna is worth watching in an Olympic year and because he’s branching out from being a time trial specialist, see his sprinting in the Vuelta last year but is this because he’s no longer invincible against the clock. The team has a stable of interesting riders, from Magnus Sheffield to Thyman Arensman, and Egan Bernal is of interest to see if he can improve. Anyway the pick is Tom Pidcock because he’s still a blank canvas in many ways. He was a “project” at the Tour de France last year where he aimed for a GC finish rather than a spectacular stage win and now the aim is more of the same. But it feels like a rider who can be a circus entertainer who wows the crowds is being molded, flattened even into something else. So can he find the fun and the flair that he’s show before and help deliver the results Ineos need? Arguably Carlos Rodriguez might give Pidcock more space, the Spaniard will return to the Tour de France with expectations, a burden shared.

Valentin Madouas is one of the leaders of Groupama-FDJ but can he land leading results? Lenny Martinez and Romain Grégoire continue their rise while David Gaudu can be world class but wasn’t a banker last season. Madouas was strong in 2023, he won the French championships last summer with a very strong ride, almost the last rider standing. But that’s his challenge, make a race hard enough and he might be the best French rider left but add competitors from other nations and how to win? Here’s the tantalising part though, he won the Bretagne Classic so it can be done and while Tom Pidcock stole the show in the Strade Bianche, Madouas was second. In 2022 he helped David Gaudu finish fourth in the Tour while finishing 11th overall, he’s a tractor with a turbo, not easy to tip to win races but should place beaucoup and the harder the conditions the better his chances. Revisit the picture above from the Strade Bianche, can he find a way to make the top step of the podium in these kind of races, or is being a French version of Tiesj Benoot who can range from the Paterberg to the Pyrenees but often settles for a lieutenant helper role pretty good anyway?

Fabio Jakobsen (DSM Firmenich-PostNL) might be the best sprinter in the world, even if Jasper Philipsen and his fans would be the first to say otherwise. And they’d have a good point, Philipsen is more versatile but for straight speed in a dragster finish it’s probably Jakobsen: but that’s a question to settle during 2024, and others will want their say too. Jakobsen has changed teams after six seasons. It’s also the story of the team which still has climbing talent in Romain Bardet, Oscar Onley and Max Poole and has recruited Warren Barguil but they’ve unloaded their other sprinters like Alberto Dainese and Sam Welsford so the big focus is on Jakobsen. If you think Mark Cavendish is a project for Astana, Jakobsen is this and more, albeit without the “last dance” narrative. Here it’s not can he win once, but how often he can win throughout the year including delivering in July. Plus the team are worth worth keeping an eye on, a story has been losing riders but signing Jakobsen might just be the start as new sponsors like PostNL swell the coffers.

Felix Gall (Decathlon-Ag2r La Mondiale) was one of the revelations of 2023. Originally slated to ride the Giro, he proved so good in the Tour of the Alps that he was pulled at the last moment from the Giro and switched to Ag2r’s Tour program. A win in the Tour de Suisse and then the Col de la Loze stage of the Tour de France. An elegant rider with a dainty high cadence – and apparently an astonishing Vo2 Max – the tricky part is going to be repeating this in 2024 but it’s not like he sneaked away for his Tour stage win, it was the last day in the Alps and he attacked on the Col de la Loze to go solo, this was a climber’s world championships. Simply put he was one of the best climbers in 2023 as the photo from the Vosges suggests. His team are an interesting prospect for 2024 where we’ll see if imports like Sam Bennett can find winning ways again and if Victor Lafay can be more consistent and ruthless – he could win the Flèche Wallonne if dropped into the perfect position but easier typed than done of course – but here Gall can stake his claim to some form of team leadership. Tied to Decathlon until 2025, he’ll might find he’s on the market very soon too.

Tao Geoghegan Hart (Lidl-Trek) was once tipped as a neo-pro to watch here but with the only reservation that he seemed so polished could he improve further. Since then he’s delivered a Giro win, and more, and seems even more thoughtful in interviews too. We could have been viewing him as the two-time Giro winner signed by Lidl-Trek as part of their expansive plans but fate intervened last May and now there’s a rehab narrative, any results will be first viewed in this light before projections are made to the future but overcome this and he’s an interesting rider, a complete rider who can climb, time trial and packs a handy sprint from a small group. His big goal is the Tour de France and that’s a blank canvas to paint but there’s more before and after.

Staying at Lidl-Trek brings us to Jonathan Milan. The hulking rider won gold in the Tokyo Olympics on the track and has improved on the road, notably winning a Giro stage and taking the ciclamino points jersey. But is he a sprinter? Yes but this label can apply to many types of rider and Milan is at the opposite end of the scale to, say, Bryan Coquard. He is 1m93cm and 84kg and all brute force on the bike, he can pour out the watts and in this sense is reminiscent of Marcel Kittel who didn’t start out as a sprinter either. Lidl-Trek have a sprinter for dragster finishes and he could also prove to be a very useful battering ram for Mads Pedersen but we’ll see if Milan can refine his sprinting technique and with this land more wins.

Luke Plapp (Jayco) made the list before he winning the double in the Australian championships. He was signed in a hurry by Ineos but ended up leaving a year before his contract was up in order to join Jayco where he’ll be easy to spot given he’ll be in the green and gold again. He’s just turned 23 and it’ll be interesting to see what type of rider he becomes. The incentives pull towards becoming a stage race contender and there are opportunities here, he’s excellent in time trials and can climb with the best, at least on shorter climbs as he’s a reported 70kg rather than 65kg and here he gives his team opportunities alongside Simon Yates and Eddie Dunbar. He’ll also have to work on leadership, Yates is the team’s senior star but Plapp will be expected to deliver soon too. Look to see what he can do in week-long stage races.

Oier Lazkano (Movistar) is a niche pick but the Basque had a great season in 2023. He became the Spanish champion and in the spring finished second in the Dwars Door Vlaanderen, getting the annual “surprise Spaniard” award from the Flemish media. But flip these around and it sounds better as the bulky Spaniard was strong in Flanders and then won a hilly edition of the Spanish championships, even keeping Juan Ayuso at bay and he had more results too. This power and range makes him a useful domestique but it’ll be interesting to see where he gets his opportunities. Also with the Spanish champion’s jersey on his back things won’t be so easy, if he goes up the road it’s not “a Movistar” but Lazkano.

Maxim Van Gils (Lotto-Dstny) is a pick outside of the World Tour. The system is becoming increasingly closed, the 18 teams inside get automatic invites but a handful of teams outside are de facto World Tour teams, the same in all but label. Lotto-Dsnty among them and of course they’re De Lie-Destiny in many ways and the “Bull” is a fascinating rider who was a neo-pro to watch here before. Van Gils though gives the team more range, a punchy climber who is in his fourth season in the World Tour and won the Saudi Tour last year but can he land somethingn bigger in Europe? Don’t expect results up front… because he’s suspended until mid-February after bashing a rider in the Japan Cup criterium but his results are on an upward curve and 2024 could be a breakthrough. But one challenge is finding chances for the rider from Brasschaat north of Antwerp, the team have said no thanks to invites for the Giro and Basque Country already, just the terrain that should suit Van Gils but he’ll find more.

As ever the problem is picking just ten riders, there are over 500 riders the World Tour although there will be a separate piece for the neo-pros. It means hundreds of stories to follow and more to be made in the season. You can easily find ten riders with interesting stories on one team. Take UAE, where can all their riders get opportunities, the team is like an art museum that has to keep some masterpieces in storage because it struggles for gallery space, think Jay Vine, Brandon McNulty and Pavel Sivakov among others and Marc Hirschi’s comeback last season could continue. Mark Cavendish an interesting story but it’s very specific: a win in July when Astana also need new signings to deliver otherwise they’re relegated. Last year’s lead pick Richard Carapaz is interesting for all the same reasons… and so on.

Outside the World Tour it’d be easy to pick 20 names to follow Van Gils, think Jambaljamts Sainbayar at Burgos-BH, it’s novel to see a Mongolian sports export outside of, say, sumo or boxing, but the Spanish team have made some clever signings all round and it’d be nice if they pay off. It’s going to be hard to pick eight riders for the Giro at Tudor but Michael Storer and Marco Brenner at Tudor are interesting signings and key to the team overtaking rivals in the second tier. Likewise at Uno-X the additions of Andreas Leknessund and Magnus Cort are crucial, signing them and finding the budget wasn’t easy but the even harder part will be getting results. Mathieu Burgaudeau at Total Energies really should be picked by a World Tour team but would he get as much freedom to attack?

Any riders you will be watching, and if so why?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Anonymous Monday, 8 January 2024, 2:38 pm

    If Evenepoel continues his habit of staying on the ground for a long time post-crash – he even demanded that team mates/workers help him up after many minutes at the Giro, despite being unhurt – the peloton should not wait.
    It’s the thin end of the wedge. Once one prima donna starts doing this, others will copy. There had to be the first footballer who writhed around as if shot, post-foul/tackle… they didn’t stamp it out, and now it’s a blight on the game.
    Cycling has a code of honour – to some extent – the riders wait after a crash, as long as the race is not on. But that relies on riders being genuine and getting back on their bike as soon as they can – as every other rider does, currently.

  • JV Monday, 8 January 2024, 2:53 pm

    I will keep an eye on Ethan Hayter. He seems to need a career revival – or have I over dramatised that? At one point I was looking forward to seeing him as a competitor to van Aert et al. Powerful sprint, punchy, with an apparent all-round talent. But track work and injuries (illness?) seem to have delayed his progress on the road. More of the same could loom for ’24 but he’s a rider I’d like to see more of. His brother also.

    As a long time mountain bike fan, I’m interested to see where Lenny Martinez can get to – though it makes me feel old remembering his dad being the young racer. As mentioned above there are plenty of riches at FDJ, but will they be able grow their wealth further than they already have. If he ‘only’ has a career like compatriot Bardet, then that will be a big success.

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 8 January 2024, 6:06 pm

      Hayter had a bad time last year, a broken collarbone saw him sit out the summer when everything pointed to him being in Ineos’s Tour team, although there were not many stages for him; he might be back again in 2024 but again – like Arnaud De Lie also – there are not many obvious stages for him, those uphill finishes just steep enough to spoil things for the sprinters.

      • Richard Thursday, 11 January 2024, 4:19 am

        I believe E Hayter is focusing on the Olympics Team Pursuit this year so we might not see quite hat he’s capable of on the road. His positioning in the peloton is a concern too – if I was a domestique at Ineos I’d have lost my temper more than once if my job was to continually drag him up from the back. Lots of watts though…

  • DJW Monday, 8 January 2024, 4:25 pm

    What about Groupama-FDJ’s Lewis Askey as an improving outsider? He doesn’t lack confidence and seems to relish difficult terrain, yet can ride all day in a breakaway with a decent sprint to finish. He should, despite Kung and Madouas, also enjoy some freedom in the races which suit him: Tro-Bro Léon, P-R…

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 8 January 2024, 6:03 pm

      A good rider but how to get a result? He’s perhaps more likely to be riding in the service of others and good at this but if things go well he could get more chances at a sprint win, especially as Paul Penhoët is out with a medium term injury/surgery. But they have quite a decent classics team with him, Geniets and new recruits Bystrom and Walls who can work with Küng and Madouas.

  • THT Monday, 8 January 2024, 6:43 pm

    A very interesting reading, thanks. Here are some riders I will be watching:

    – Biniam Girmay. Will he bounce back after a somewhat disappointing year?

    – Quinn Simmons. He can (maybe inadvertently?) be very disrespectful, but he is certainly talented, and he has a long contract with Lidl-Trek. When he became a pro, he seemed like a rider I would be equally impressed and annoyed with for many years to come, but last year and the year before he was more or less invisible in the races I watched. Will we this year notice him for reasons other than his distinctive jersey (or, in the worst case, offensive statements in the media)?

    – Kévin Vauquelin. Will he continue to develop so well, or will Arkéa be all about Démare from now?

    – Joshua Tarling. There is no doubt about his abilities against the clock. Will we this year see some promising results, e.g., in one-day races?

    – Tim Declercq. I know this is an odd one and doesn’t quite fit with the purpose of such lists, but can he please win a race? I am aware that’s not his job, but still…

    • The Inner Ring Monday, 8 January 2024, 6:58 pm

      Some great suggestions. Girmay was a pick last year and partly because he changes the team so much, when he had the form that saw him getting the better of Van der Poel it was enough to build a team around and so adieu the old “fire riders forward” tactics, even if they have Thijssen, Page, Marit and more for the sprints too.

      We can’t just look at the legs/results but if try with Simmons he started so well but seems to have stalled, it’s interesting to see what he can do and remember that he’s still young and growing up in front of us.

      Vauquelin’s talented as he can climb and TT – he did a great ride in Poland last summer and not on a team famous for wind tunnel resources etc – but knee injuries ruined part of 2023 for him.

      Tarling was on last year’s neo-pros to watch list so didn’t get double picked but he’ll be interesting as he can supplant his own team mate Ganna as the king of the time trial, all while Ganna is supreme in shorter efforts but it’s said Tarling can sustain power for longer, so could be interesting on some climbs even, and all this as still technically a neo-pro.

      Declerq, why not, a fitting reward but how to do it? Maybe a wet day in a small stage race? Absolutely no idea what his sprinting is like if he were to come in with a small group…

      • Cd Monday, 8 January 2024, 10:16 pm

        I worry that Simmons may be the type of rider who matures very early and may not have a lot of progress left. He’s still very strong but maybe won’t become a world beater.

        • Tom Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 1:20 am

          There were a couple interviews with Quinn Simmons published recently online. In the first on Velo(news), he talks about the Gino Mader crash. “I was riding behind Gino [Mäder] when he crashed so I stopped straight away to direct emergency services to him. I’m devastated by his tragic death,” Simmons told reporters last summer at U.S. nationals.

          And in the second on Cyclingnews, he talks about the concussion resulting from his crash on Stage 5 of the Tour. “I fell apart pretty bad after and I was also concussed, so that doesn’t really help you emotionally regulate when you’re already quite out of it. I went to Girona, where I have a place for the season and still had the idea that I’d recover and race the Worlds. But being there it became more and more apparent how bad the concussion actually was.”

          • THT Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 8:37 am

            Both new to me, thanks. Surprisingly thoughtful and likable, and it might explain a few things. On the other hand, we have had two years without major results, while a raft of other young riders have emerged and left their marks on the biggest races. That will be his competition for the rest of his career, plus others who are still in the junior/youth ranks at the moment. So the jury is out, as far as I am concerned. I will now watch his progress with even more interest.

          • Cd Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 5:28 pm

            Thanks. Read those as well and I’d think the Mader incident would be really hard to get over. I feel for everyone involved there. Hopefully Simmons bounces back.

      • Tovarishch Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 10:45 am

        Tarling holds UK TT records at both 50 and 100 miles. He can definitely hold power for a long time!

        • Tom J Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 10:07 pm

          Your comment prompted me to look up Tarling’s results in domestic time trials. 1-35-26 in a 50 this year is one thing, but 3-46-40 for a 100 back in 2019 – holy smoke! He was only 15 then! I know TTing has come on a long way since my pre-aero days when we were pleased with a sub 2 hour fifty, but – blimey!

          https://www.cyclingtimetrials.org.uk/rider-pbs/3767

          Tom

  • brent Monday, 8 January 2024, 9:56 pm

    Of course Lucas Plapp interests me the most from the local team. One thing i wonder about for his team is that they have to many protected riders that the helpers are not quite strong enough for all year duty. With Plapp, yates, mathews, Groenewegen, Ewan, Dunbar the rest of the team may not be strong enough to say little of the other riders who deserve there time to shine. Harper, O,brian, Pena, Zana, Schmid.
    They dominated the men’s nationals in a way they have i don’t recall in recent years. And bagged themselves some very useful uci points.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:12 pm

      The chances of Michael Freiberg – kudos to him – winning the Australian championships again look slim, one of the first thoughts one seeing the results was the haul of points. That and how well Harper did in both races, at his best he’s maybe not Kuss or Adam Yates but might not be far off.

  • Madvillain Monday, 8 January 2024, 10:10 pm

    Bagioli with a nice finish to 2023, can he keep this into 2024?

    Jorgensen and Tullet look like good signings for Visma, we’ll see. Uijtdebroeks after the soap opera.

    Osborne and Vergallito at Alpecin.

    Skjelmose, goal is La Vuelta but hope he will surprise before.

    Class of 2001 Olav Kooij and Carlos Rodriguez.

    Max Poole even younger from 2003.

    • cp Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 2:50 am

      This is a fun list to watch. I was going to say Jorgensen and Rodriguez.
      But I’m also curious if Wout van Aert will have any success in the spring classics or if he’ll play second fiddle to van der Poel through it.

    • JV Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 10:45 am

      I’d forgotten about the Tullet move. Wonder what role we’ll see for him – Ardennes? Gaining GC experience? A chance to ride for himself (which is surely why he moved, but can’t see his new team being any easier to get a chance in)? Hopefully he’s getting some good advice and doesn’t end up needlessly team-hopping in search of… something.

    • Rod Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 3:16 pm

      +1 on Luca Vergallito for me, really talented climber and one of those with a kind of second chance having come through Zwift academy. Some nice results last year in devo team and seemed to be going well before crashing out of Italian Classics at end of the year with a broken collarbone.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:18 pm

      Lots of good picks. Italian cycling needs Bagioli. Poole is like Skjelmose in that the goal is the Vuelta but it’ll be interesting to see before, somewhere like Romandie could be perfect.

      With others mentioning Vergallito too, Osborne’s a good pick as well. Under the radar ride in Austria last year, his technical skills are improving a lot. For readers wondering, he was one of the first of the wave of “non-cyclists” and Zwift athletes to come into the sport, he was an Olympic rower but kept fit cycling and more, he took the legendary Strava KOM on Monte Serra, has been e-sports World Champ. But his breakthrough hasn’t been as pronounced as Jay Vine, perhaps because he’s less suited to obvious Alpine-style efforts like Vine and more races with more fighting for position etc but we’ll see in 2024.

      • Rod Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 6:23 pm

        Speaking of “non-cyclists” now that coverage in UK has moved to Discovery channel, I came across the Anton Palzer documentrary which is a couple of years old but I hadn’t seen it before. Quite staggering that he went from never having raced a bike to riding the Vuelta in just a few months. As you say, cycling littered with these stories!

  • 150 Watts Monday, 8 January 2024, 10:41 pm

    Kooij looks like the interesting one to me.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:20 pm

      A former neo-pro pick here, he’s looking very good in the sprints but keen to see what he can do in the classics as well because he might have a lot more range.

  • Sean Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 2:12 am

    I am definitely, 100%, not interested in how Quintana performs this year, no matter how good he looks in February. 🤥

    • rob md Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 11:16 am

      Should be fun though if Quintana outperforms Mas in 2024.

      • Sean Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 11:31 am

        Lalalala. I refuse to listen. I’m not going to think about it. 😎

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:22 pm

        An interesting point because he left Movistar on unhappy terms, although that was in part because of leadership with Valverde who has gone. Still no explanation of the tramadol case but in a way if he and his advisers hadn’t gone to town with the big appeals he’d be in the same place today but with less headlines… and probably richer having had fewer litigation bills.

        • gabriele Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:36 am

          It also challenges standard logic in that Quintana was most surely *not* using Tramadol when it was legal (police never found it, and as it was legal there wasn’t much reason to hide it, just as the others legal products which were instead found by the search hadn’t be hidden at all), but he apparently started used it precisely when it became a forbidden substance. Who knows!

  • Velovibes Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 2:28 am

    One rider to watch this year is VDP. Not so much to see if he can equal his successful 2023 campaign but if he targets and is competitive in a few top races he has not won yet. Specifically, I am talking about:
    – LBL: he has recently said in interviews he may ride LBL this year and of the 2 monuments he hasn’t won yet (LBL and Lombardy) LBL is the one he could win. Of course he wouldn’t be able to keep up with Evenepoel and Pogacar on la Redoute, but the race may unfold differently. He came 6th in his first and only attempt a few years ago.
    – Olympic road race: he has already indicated that of all races this year that is the one he is most keen to win.
    – Olympic MTB cross country: He has said for year that he wants to try to win that one but recently he has hinted at focusing on the Olympic road race and dropping the cross country race.

    I hope he chooses to ride LBL and the Olympic road race with TdF as prep for the Olympic race. It would be an epic success if he manages to win both.

    • brent Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 9:40 am

      I feel that every year i watch the cross races he enters and he looks better than the last.
      This year he is so far ahead of the rest the main interest is when he will go. He instantly gets a 20 – 40 second gap and then he throttles back to merely match the others.
      But although he has been my fav rider since before he jumped on the road bike calendar the other day he appeared to spit at spectators and no matter the provocation (i presume they supported one of the other riders) he would almost certainly be getting a big suspension if i was the judge. It even looked pre meditated from something on a previous lap. You just can’t do that sort of thing.

      • ZKelly Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 7:16 pm

        Those “fans” had been booing him all day. Starting during the warmup. I’m okay w that. It’s cheering in a messed up way. Not everyone likes every rider. They have their favorites. But when it comes to repeatedly throwing bier and urine at someone, that’s just wrong. The other spectators should have put an end to it.
        Where would you draw the line ?

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:29 pm

      For Liège it’s possible but in the sense that the scenario works out for him, that the Roche aux Faucons climb isn’t climbed at full speed from start to finish, but just enough to allow him and a group to get back on the descent and then aim to take the sprint win. Whereas he can shape most other races.

      I keep thinking of the Olympics, it’s going to be a strange race. A lot of riders know they won’t win so there’s a good incentive to do a “Kiesenhofer” early on, especially as the small sized teams will wait for someone else to attack. But in turn why not have the top riders go clear by forcing an early selection. Either way it’s going to be very different, requiring interesting tactics (who joins the Dutch team, just Visma and Ineos riders?) and also interesting training if things could happen throughout the race.

      • Dawnstar Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 5:27 pm

        I’m probably missing something that’s obvious to everyone else here but may I ask exactly what you mean by “who joins the Dutch team, just Visma and Ineos riders?”

        • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 5:30 pm

          Who will ride in support for Van der Poel, who would you pick? Van Baarle is a strong rider who could work all day… but it’s his Olympic chance too. Kooij could be a pick. With such small teams it’s complicated even if team mates picked are onboard just to ride for the team and there’s no Plan B on the day.

          • Dawnstar Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 6:26 pm

            Thanks for the clarification. I wasn’t sure if it meant who’s going to be in the Dutch team or who is likely to work with the Dutch team during the race. I don’t think I’d expect Arensmen, who I believe is currently the only Dutch Ineos rider, to make the team though, as it doesn’t seem like an ideal course for his strengths.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 3:38 pm

        As far as I can tell MVdP and Merckx were/are the same weight in racing trim, so claims MVdP can’t win all 5 monuments (or any other race he enters) fall flat IMHO.
        The guy is just 28 years old at present, who knows what he can win before he hangs up the wheels?

  • Qwerty Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 11:28 am

    Always like these pieces. For me some questions:
    – are Bernal, Alaphilippe and Ewan in the Last Chance saloon?
    – Philipsen, can he win a big spring classic? Pedersen same.
    – will Tobias Halland Johannessen win?
    – will Cavendish win
    – Van Gils? OK then let’s see what Van Eetvelt can do too

    Hard part now is picking fantasy teams for the season

    • WillC Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 2:07 pm

      Regarding Bernal, there was an interesting interview with him on the Geriant Thomas podcast. Considering Bernal’s crash nearly paralysed him in early 2022, it’s astonishing to think that he was back racing in August that year, and then rode the TdF last year. Even if he never gets back to the very top of the sport, I hope he has many fulfilling years ahead in the peloton

      • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:31 pm

        Yes, less of the last chance here for them but their future might just be less well-paid. Alaphilippe might have been able to move teams already but since nobody was willing to pay more, why move but now his next contract depends on results, and a turn-around of sorts.

        • Richard Thursday, 11 January 2024, 5:33 am

          I don’t know of his current condition but the TdU this year could hardly be better designed for someone like Alaphilippe. In his pomp, I’d expect him to win a stage or two and challenge for the GC. I’m curious what he does in the week ahead, even though his bigger targets will be some months away.

  • rob md Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 11:35 am

    Madouas has the quality to win a big one day race, but as was pointed out, he ends up against van Aert, van der Poel, Pogacar or Remco so it’s never going to be easy.

    Milan at the Giro will be interesting to see if he’s improved from last year.

    Can Remco take the step up to real GT contender at the Tour? Maybe a year older and a little more mature might do the trick. If Thomas can still put up good results at his age then Remco can still improve.

    Apart from De Lie at Lotto, Lennert Van Eetvelt is another one I’ll keep an eye on and of course the whole bunch of talanted youngsters at UAE.

  • Anonymous Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 2:55 pm

    Rohan Dennis, for very different reasons.

    • The Inner Ring Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:32 pm

      But he’s not a (pro) rider any more and we’ll leave it at that, it’s with the police now.

  • Larry T Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 4:06 pm

    I’ll be watching Pogacar, hoping against all odds he can do the Giro/Tour double and perhaps even equal Roche in 1987? WVA to see if his new approach might bring him some big wins. Ayuso to see if his promise will be realized and Bagioli since Italian cycling needs a new hero. How many days until MSR?
    Regarding Rohan Dennis, am I the only one wondering why there’s so little (at least that I see) on this tragedy? If Mario Cipollini had killed, rather than beat-up his wife I think there’d be so much on this we’d all be sick of it by now. Is there some sort of gag order on this down in OZ, land of Rupert Murdoch?

    • Steve Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 7:27 pm

      I think you’ll find that billionaire tyrant Rupert Murdoch has been American for several decades now.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:25 am

        I know ol ‘ Rupe’s a Yankee now but didn’t he leave any of the tabloid-style “journalism” behind in OZ? It’s not that I really WANT to know all the sordid details but rather that the relative silence on his case vs The Lion King’s legal issues seems strange in comparison and I wonder why?

        • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:46 am

          Probably because it’s a live case that has yet to go court. No media outlet wants to prejudice a case by publishing an untested version of events. By contrast Cipollini’s case has been heard, verdicts given, people have given speeches, interviews. In time people will be able to find the sorry details, eg courtroom transcripts or TV, although probably not here.

    • 150 Watts Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 1:05 am

      I think what is known has been reported so we will just have to wait for the trial to hear Dennis’s explanation.
      Apart from that neither the profile of the sport itself nor Dennis’s profile within the sport are in any way comparable to cycling in Italy or Cipollini.

    • brent Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 4:33 am

      Probably 2 reasons come to mind.
      Cycling is such a minor sport that the great majority of the population do not know who Rohan Dennis or Melissa Hoskins is having never heard of him so there’s no gossip clicks to be had. Effectively to most of the Australian population any cyclist other than perhaps Cadel Evans who won the only race they have heard of know as much about the pair as any other random person on the street.

      The police will be holding their cards close to their chest until they work out , so no one actually knows the details.
      But really the first point is the main one. And I am absolutely certain that if they were more famous every news outlet including but not limited to Murdock papers would be running it as a major story.

      • rob md Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 4:46 am

        As there are kids involved it’s probably a good thing it’s not all over the press.

      • Larry T Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:35 am

        I get what you mean but the CYCLING press worldwide seemed to have plenty about Super Mario while with Dennis’ there’s almost nothing, like the entire cycling world just wants to look away and ignore it.
        I typed key words about the two stories into a search engine to check and found a long list of cycling sites with stories on Cipo’s mess while doing the same with Dennis’ pops up just a few….despite a death being involved vs assault. Seems odd but I’ll accept that maybe it’s just me?

        • J Evans Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 11:46 am

          In the UK – unlike the US, for instance – there are strong laws that prevent the media writing about the details of a case before it goes to court (and during) so that the case is not prejudiced. Seems a good chance that Australia has the same laws.

        • Davesta Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 2:59 pm

          In addition to the other reasons mentioned, I would hazard a guess that you’re seeing those results, because you’re searching with an IP address located in Italy?
          If I simply search their names from the UK, I get about 4-5 results, all from the same date in 2022, reporting on Cipo’s prison sentence. Whereas I get dozens of hits from both cycling & mainstream press about Rohan Dennis and the death of his wife.

          I’ve read that Dennis’ court hearing won’t take place until March, so unlikely we’ll know any details before then. And by that time, the spring classics will be in full swing, so we’ll have other things to worry about 😉

          • Larry T Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 3:42 pm

            “I would hazard a guess that you’re seeing those results, because you’re searching with an IP address located in Italy?”
            Could be, though the search words were English and the search engine Google.

        • Anonymous Monday, 15 January 2024, 11:56 am

          Maybe it’s just that Italy has a way bigger media landscape than NZ? And also cycling is way bigger in Italy?
          How much do you know or read or hear about anything that goes on in NZ, about crimes or politics or entertainment?
          We only know about it cause we are are a niche cycling community. This is not Johnny Depp vs Amber worldwide attention sparking case.

    • dft Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 12:57 pm

      I wasn’t aware of the Cipo thing until now. (And Hoskins’ death was prominent on BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail websites which is remarkable for an Australian cycling story).

      • Larry T Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 3:45 pm

        Cipo’s case was pretty much everywhere on English language cycling sites at the time…which is why I wondered why the Dennis thing wasn’t/isn’t? Could it be only because Super Mario was a big star vs Rohan Dennis, who wasn’t?

        • Anonymous Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 5:09 pm

          It’s common practice for the media to report very little until it’s been heard in court.

  • Rafal Tuesday, 9 January 2024, 9:07 pm

    It’s gonna be a great season. For me

    1. Pogi. Can he do the double? Can be add the WCRR and a monument or two? He’s going for the most ambitious season in a very long time. I want to see history made and risk rewarded

    2. Powless, can he step up and win a monument? I think Flanders is possible. How will Jorgenson do?

    3. Some names to watch for me are Zingle and Vauquelin. I think they have barely scratched their potential. Pithie and Kielich. Milan. Gregoire and Lenny but also van Eetvelt.

    4. Guys that may rebound. Wright, Sheffield, Turner, TGH

    5. The neopros. Who will be the big one this year.

    • KevinK Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:19 am

      I like this list, there’s a ton of overlap with riders I’m looking forward to following (most excited about Pog – as you say, potential cycling history in the making, something you really can’t say about any other active rider).

      I’ll add Sepp Kuss to my list. I don’t imagine in a million years that he’ll repeat the kind of success he had last year (is it a hot take if I predict that we saw ‘peak Kuss’ last year?), but it’ll be very interesting to see what kinds of chances he gets in 2024, how bold he is about those chances, and to what extent the team supports him.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:40 am

      More good picks. Powless almost made the ten above, both for what he can do but also the question of how he might find the space to do it, EF will rightly build around Carapaz at some points and Powless might be better for the Ardennes than the cobbles but he can do both, and Healy will be keen on the Ardennes which means Powless might actually prefer the cobbles and so on, it’s all about a team with some quality riders trying to work out how to place their chips.

      As for Pogačar he’s set the bar so high for himself now.

      Neo-pro post coming soon.

      • Cd Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 5:35 pm

        I feel like Healy’s presence may now enable an easier path for Powless to get a big win in say, the Ardennes. I don’t see Healy getting away so easily after last year’s performances but Powless may be allowed to go up the road.

      • Reno Thursday, 11 January 2024, 1:02 am

        It’s been reported that when Rui Costa was offered to EF, the first person JV called to hear his opinion was Powless and they wondered whether Costa could bolster EF’s Ronde-team. In their analysis, the Ronde has become a bit of a climbers race (mainly due to Pogacar’s relentless raids on the Oude Kwaremont, I guess), and Costa would be a good fit, according to Neilson Powless. To me, the Ronde seems a big target for the men in pink.

  • Frood Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 8:37 am

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Roglic – it’ll be interesting to see how he goes now he’s out of the Visma bubble. For me, I think he’ll scrape onto the podium at the Tour followed by a leisurely decline into retirement but I’d love to see a more competitive scenario.

    • KevinK Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:35 am

      Agree that Roglič is another great story to watch unfold this year. I’m can’t agree that there will be anything leisurely about hm, though, given his fierce competitiveness! And I know what you mean, he’s 34 now and his results will inevitably start declining, if not this year then soon. Given his competitiveness, he’ll be fighting that decline tooth and nail.

    • THT Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:39 am

      I agree, this will be very interesting to watch, and one of the biggest stories of the season. Personally, I’d love to see him win the Tour and have some hope that we will have a thrilling battle between him and the other contenders. I left that out of my list because I thought that it was on everybody’s mind already. Another of these big stories will be WVA’s performance, although this has been mentioned in a few comments. He has done some of the most astionishing things I have ever seen in bike races, but we all know that he has won few of the most prestigious races. Last year’s P-R was particularly tragic (and I am also sparing a thought for poor John Degenkolb in that context), and I hope he can rectify it this year.

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 9:42 am

      Was too obvious for the list, a bit like Cavendish. What’s interesting now is we know his race programme and it’s all about the Tour. He’s won practically everything he can except this… and the Tour de Suisse. It’ll be interesting to see how the team change works, he’s been with Jumbo for so long he was not just part of the team but the squad was arguably built with him and his rise.

  • Road furniture Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 2:11 pm

    Not really a leftfield pick but I’ll be watching Arnaud De Lie in particular. He seems the most likely to bank a big classics win outside the «big 5 ».

    • The Inner Ring Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 4:17 pm

      Still 21 as well and so far really down to earth, the kind of guy more excited by a tractor than a sports car but wondering if this changes and he’s driving a Lamborghini around Monaco. It was reported the other day – De Lie told the press – that Patrick Lefevere even asked if he could fly in a helicopter to De Lie’s farm to talk about a move.

    • Rafal Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 10:34 pm

      Whom do you consider as the Big 5? Since you’re talking about classics I can think only of Pogacar, MVDP, WVA and Remco. These are the only guys who go into every big classic as 4 or 5 star favorites. Roglic does too but only for very select races, and he doesn’t even do any classics this year. So I wouldn’t put him into a Big X category for classics. Jonas has a terrible record at one day races and I wouldn’t expect him to win a big classic in his career. He hasn’t shown he can.

      Big 4 – Pog, Mathieu, Wout, Remco

      For me, the guys I think are most likely to win a big classic not in the Big 4 would be Powless and Pedersen. De Lie has the power but he hasn’t yet shown he can win a big European classic.

  • Cascarinho Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 6:14 pm

    I wonder how Vlasov will manage to have so much concurrence in his team. Two years ago he seemed to be a future great GC rider but he seems to have stalled a little bit, and I wonder if he will try to fight this or accept a new role of super domestique in the GT.

  • Reno Wednesday, 10 January 2024, 11:52 pm

    I’m not sure what the criterion is to be selected as a ‘rider to watch’, but I appreciate people chipping in and we learn a bit more about riders that may or may not be on our radar. My two cents. He’s mentioned above, but will be watching Max Poole this year. His schedule has not been announced fully yet, but it looks to me he will have a similar season as Arensman had in 2022 (2nd year pro for DSM back then). Poole’s test values are said to be close to Dumoulin’s. Whether Poole will replicate Arensman’s results of 2022 remains to be seen. Also, Milan Vader won’t be mountainbiking this year, he is planning a full season on the road. No GT for him this year, but he’s got a punchy kick.

    • The Inner Ring Thursday, 11 January 2024, 9:28 am

      No fixed criteria, it can be a talent to tip or maybe a rider with a story to tell, or someone who might tell us wider things about the sport during the season. Poole is interesting and very promising, so good at times last year, whether Romandie, the Dauphiné or the Vuelta were he was strong in the third week.

      • Reno Thursday, 11 January 2024, 11:48 am

        Aha, I do sense you’re doing some marketing research on stories to share and tell during the season 😉 X is becoming less a place for stories now, I find. There was a time when feature articles were shared and discussed at length, with soap box exclamations now overtaking. But I digress. There’s stories on every rider indeed and they’re all interesting to a varying degree. Of the two riders that I mentioned, Milan Vader’s story would be most interesting, to me at least, considering is background in mtb and his almost fatal accident in 2022. For future reference, also take note of Bart Lemmen, a rider on Visma/Lease-a-bike who didn’t aspire to be a pro rider until very recently. Don’t quote me on the details, but he was a lieutenant in the army who liked to ride a bike – and he’s shown to be very good at that. Two years pass et voila, he’s on Visma’s roster.

  • AndyW Thursday, 11 January 2024, 2:25 pm

    Great list, along with the replies. A few more names below, although these are probably replicated in some other comments:
    Tarling: will he already out-gun Ganna and become the dominant TT rider? Or can he put himself in the picture for some Tony Martin-like raids if given the chance? Doesn’t look like he had a non-TT top 10 last year.
    Van Aert: I would love to see him gain some parity over van der Poel and finally win a monument. E3 was his only really notable win last year.
    Girmay: for the reasons discussed in the comments above by others
    Uijtdebroeks: also mentioned above – the combination of the soap opera move and finding his place within a hugely competitive GC team will be interesting. Is he pencilled to lead the GC effort at the Giro now?
    Kuss: will he have another shot at the Vuelta? Will it be a challenge accommodating his goals with Vingegaard and Uijtdebroeks, or will he return to “super-dom” status with the occassional stage win? I could imagine a team like EF would like a genuine GC contender from the US.
    Hirschi: the narrative until late last year appeared to be that he’d lost his way (sorry if that over-simplifies a complex career), yet his late season form was impressive and he finished the year ranked higher than any Ineos rider, for example (by far his most successful season from a crude UCI/PCS points perspective). Will UAE let him lead in bigger races?

    As an aside, the neo-pro riders to watch in 2017 you linked to is a really interesting read, both for the successes (Gaudu, TGH, Ganna, Mas etc) but also for people like Ravasi – seemingly a standout talent as a junior but unable to translate that form into being a star at the top level. A look at the 2016 Tour de l’Avenir also highlighted the awfully sad story of Adrien Costa.

  • Peter Friday, 12 January 2024, 1:17 pm

    Mentioned above briefly, but Bart Lemmen is interesting to watch. He is relatively old (28), only joined a continental team in 2022, pro tour team in 2023 and now a top tier world tour team.

    From the same team: Milan Vader ended on a high note in 2023 with a WT win after a horrible crash. Curious to see if he can repeat or even top it.